This dresser was a Craigslist bargain find! Every once in a while, there is a piece of furniture that pops up on Craigslist that you just know has the potential to be a really cool project, and this was one of them. Before this dresser, we had never worked on a waterfall dresser, but we will be open to doing many more after this one.
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This dresser was in pretty good shape, but we knew a few things would have to be corrected before it was ready for a new home. Almost all art deco waterfall pieces of furniture feature a lot of cool-looking veneers; however, over time, these veneers will chip away and come apart. This dresser was between 80 to 90 years of age, so there were definitely a few veneer issues. So just like every project, we had to decide what would be the focal point of the dresser. Luckily, the veneer on the dresser's top drawer was in perfect condition, so it became an easy decision; the top drawer would become the focal point of the dresser.
We used the following supplies on this dresser:
The first step is to remove the paint from the dresser, so we turn to one of our favorite stripping gels, CitriStrip. We used a cheap paintbrush to apply the CitriStrip, and then we let it sit for a while. You will be able to tell when it starts to work because the paint will start bubbling up (the picture on the bottom left shows this). After letting it sit for a while (on this project, we let it sit for a couple of hours), we used a scraper and scraped off the paint. Sometimes you might need to use a little muscle to get the paint off. As we noted above, it is important that you ensure that all of the CitriStrip is removed, or it could affect your finish later on.
After we stripped the dresser, we still needed to sand it down. We started with our orbital sander using 80 grit sandpaper. Then, we hand sanded it with 120 grit sandpaper. This process seems to be quite effective in putting the dresser in its bare-bones state.
Once sanding is complete, don't forget to vacuum out and wash off the dust. You don't want to get dust particles in your tape, paint, or stain.
After we sanded the dresser down, we made sure to tape the inside of the body and the inside of the drawers. It is always important to remember to tape the inside of the body where the drawers will slide in and out of it. Taping is not a necessary step, but if you want to have a re-purposed dresser that looks professional-grade, then every detail matters.
Some of the veneer on the dresser was chipped, so we used wood filler to fix the chips before we painted.
After the wood filler was sanded down, we stained the outside pieces of the dresser and the top drawer with cherry stain. This is backward from how we usually do stain on areas close to the areas that will be painted, but we needed to see how all of the areas would take the stain before we could finalize our design for the dresser.
After the wood filler was applied and sanded down, we applied a coat of primer to the areas of the dresser that would be painted. Once the primer dried, we painted the dresser and the drawers that needed to be painted.
We were very excited about how this dresser turned out and are now looking for a new art deco waterfall dresser to work on!
Josh and Sydney are life adventurers that love to learn and create. We are exact opposites and enjoy gaining new perspective. Our home is where our varying personalities shine, and we use it to gather our friends and family together.